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Building first simplistic plywood door

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:16 am
by Slywalker§

I'm fairly a beginner, weighting 95kg and would like to find a way to ride in 8knots on the lakes in my area. I'm try to get a second hand 16-17m2 kite.
My current board is a 1m40 * 42cm board which I'm really happy with.

I've seen that the board is really important to manage to ride upwind and would have surely bought a spleene monster door if I had the money for it. I've read in here ( about building your own "simple" plywood board. I would like to build the simplest board for lightwind. I don't care about performance or making jumps/tricks, I will ride it only in perfectly flat water. The only thing is since the lake are close to the moutains the wind can be a little gusty or just complety drop (there you are just fucked but at least you will always end up on a shore somehow)

I'm not at all a manual person and have access to pretty limited equipment/space/money. My only goal is to be able to ride and come back to the tiny kite authorized area at the border of the lake when the wind is low (ideally reaching as low as 8 knots). So fiber glass is completely out of the question and I would like to avoid to have to glue or make some rocker by just using a plain piece of plywood.

I have an old kiteboard from where I can salvage fins, pads and handle.

I still would like to have a few feedback before I start my project:
- Is having no rocker at all viable? Does it affect maneuverability? I would like to use plain piece of wood and avoid to glue different layers. It will end up in a super heavy board, does it affect navigation?
- I'm looking for the biggest fat door possible as I will only use it when my main board doesn't get me upwind. I was thinking of using the spleen monster door lay out: 1m66 x 50, even maybe going to 52cm width. Is it a good idea?
- In term of shape, is just cutting the corner round (5 cm radius) is enough (I'm really searching simplicity) ? Should I try to make the outline of the board more complex by adding concave shape on the rails? Is adding concavity on the tips helps in anything?
- For the shape of the rail I was thinking about just use rough sand paper to remove sharp edges? I can have access to a electric sander. Should I try to make the edges finer or shape them what so ever?
- plywood selection? I was aiming for birch plywood should I try 10mm or 12mm?
- finishing, my Idea was to use brillant varnish designed for boat. Is it a good choice? Is something better suitable or could I use something simper cheaper? Does it matter until it waterproofing? I found also some plywood already cover with black phenolic resin, then I only have to varnish the edges?
- Fins and pads positions? I was thinking of matching the fins and pads placement of the monster door. I don't care so much on riding toeside, I'm looking for maneuverability and upwind capability on heelside (I would try to make some carved turns with it but if it does not behave nicely toe side it's not a problem)

Thanks for any feedback on my project.

Re: Building first simplistic plywood door

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:51 pm
by faklord
Just google "plywood kite boards" or similar. There is loads of stuff out there.
These guys were some of the early pioneers

In the past I made loads of ply boards (>15) using various techniques.
A few comments tailored to you particular requirements:
Virtually anything can be made to work.
You don't really need fins. To start with it will feel a bit skatey but you'll get used to it and then get to love it. Fins cause drag so finless is great for super light winds but more likely to get overpowered earlier.
No need for built in rocker if you are in flat water (the boards will flex to give rocker in use). However, If you want some built in rocker (to minimize the front edge from catching) just soak the ply in water for few hours (overnight?) then let it dry out (several days depending on temp/humidity) with rocker induced (eg bricks under the ends and heavy weight in the middle). You'll end up with a small % of the induced rocker (eg if you use 5" bricks it'll spring back to give you maybe 0.5" rocker). Even better if you can seal/varnish the board while the rocker is being forced in.
Don't worry about fancy rails, just get rid of sharp edges (mainly for your ankles sake! - take note!!)
Yacht varnish should be fine.
Yup. Copy a production board for footstrap (& fin) may want to offset them from the centerline foe a very wide board. Cheap mousemats or closed cell camping mat is ok for footpads.
Don't worry about trying to achieve perfection 1st time around. It's cheap and once you get the bug you be building more.
They don't last for ever, which can be frustrating. I had a finless board that was just the best..eventually it broke...I tried to make a copy (had several shots at it) but just could get another one that good (guess it was some subtleties in the way that particular piece of ply flexed)

Anyhow. Just go for it. Good luck. We look forward to hearing how it went :-)

Re: Building first simplistic plywood door

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:15 pm
by Slywalker§
Thanks for the encouragement. The link is also very interesting.

I'm surprise by the finless, but that make completely sense... In this case I'll make my own straps and keep my old board functional.

I'll go for the fastest and easiest way to start with. I'll let you know how it went.

Re: Building first simplistic plywood door

Posted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:54 pm
by Slywalker§
Hi there,

I've started my project this week.
I went for a very fat door of 166cm * 54cm (65" * 21"). The shop was out of 12mm so I went for 9mm birch plywood (I hope it won't break too fast). First issue no way to put it in my car... good thing I have some bars on my roof.

I cut the corner round and and smooth the edges roughly with some sand paper (60). TIme spent 15 min.


I have some wierd holes on one the side of the board, like some wood node removed in one of the layer on one side. I will just put this rail on the toe side, should I do something about them?


I have put the first layer of varnish yesterday. I mess it up pretty badly by adding far too much varnish. Take note for next time don't do this at night or use good lights ;)


I will pass the second layer tomorrow then put the pads. I will use a yoga mat and some strap I use to attach things on the roof of my car. I will screw the strap on the board and glue the mat with contact glue.

How much should I offset the pads from the center line toward the toe rail?


Re: Building first simplistic plywood door

Posted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:46 pm
by jonysan
Hi Slywalker,
I'm interested to see the board you are making, I think it might not be the prettiest, but who cares. trouble is I can't get the photos to show?download?